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History of Religion in the United States, Religion in the Colonies

convenient excuse, Catholic missionaries, London Company, white settlers, English settlers

One of the stated purposes of European colonization was to spread Christianity. The charter of the London Company, formed in 1606 to establish colonies in the New World, called for English settlers to convert native peoples to the Anglican faith. The goal was not only to strengthen the Church of England, but also to counter the influence of Catholic Spain and France. Catholic missionaries were actively trying to convert Native Americans in the southwest and far west of the territory that is now the United States, as well as in neighboring Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In truth, some of the earliest colonists were too busy looking for land or gold or seeking profits from tobacco to pay much attention to making converts. The conflict between the search for wealth and spiritual interests continued beyond the colonial period. The fact that Native Americans were not Christian became a convenient excuse for white settlers to seize their land.

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